Guest Post

Guest Puzzle: Free Tangible Ciphers from Bill Briere

I first met puzzle-maker Bill Briere on the Kryptos Yahoo group. After solving two of the puzzles on CodeAWeek, Bill very generously offered to contribute guest puzzles for my site. For this first, he volunteered to send three “tangible” puzzles to readers of CodeAWeek. If you’re interested, keep reading.

Bill met fellow Kryptos enthusiast Jew-Lee while they were both trying to solve the sculpture’s fourth cipher (K-4), the world’s most famous unsolved cryptogram. They were married in 2016.

I’ll hand it over to Bill:

Last month, my wife and I gave a lecture at the NSA’s National Cryptologic Museum, in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Our talk commemorated the 100th wedding anniversary of legendary cryptanalysts Elizebeth and William Friedman.

The Friedmans met at a bizarre place called Riverbank Laboratories (pictured in sepia, above). Imagine this private research facility as something like a cross between DARPA and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The couple fell in love while working on cryptograms there. They were married in 1917.

We made three freebies for our audience, and we’ll offer them also to readers of Tony’s CodeAWeek blog: a bookmark, a wooden nickel, and a “cryptocablegram” (pictured in color, above). These will be available through December 31, 2017, or until our supply runs out.

Our souvenirs are rough-hewn and simple, made in the same spirit as similar things that the Friedmans designed for family and friends nearly a century ago.

If you missed our lecture (complete with wedding cake!), these puzzles might not make a lot of sense, but here’s a short description of each:

  1. The bookmark contains a simple substitution cipher that the Friedmans would have enjoyed, especially given their co-authorship of a book entitled “The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined.”
  2. The wooden nickel is a commemorative token with a simple substitution cipher on its face and wedding bells on the reverse.
  3. The Cryptocablegram is a card with a wedding anniversary toast to the Friedmans printed on it. The superenciphered message is decrypted by using a grille-style transparent overlay and by following instructions printed on the card.

We’ll send you all three of these souvenirs, at no cost. Just e-mail your name and postal mailing address to, and put “Happy 100th Anniversary!” in the subject line.